Players aren’t paid during spring training. They’re given meal money, but that’s it. That’s not a big issue for big leaguers who make, at the very least, six figures per season. It’s a very big issue for minor league players, who are generally paid less than the minimum wage and often have to work other jobs during the offseason just to live.
Spring training is over for the time being because of the coronavirus pandemic, which means players aren’t even getting meal money anymore unless they’ve elected to stay in camp and keep working out. And they can’t live on that forever.
A big concern of mine: if MiLB season is delayed, will our paychecks be delayed too?
MiLB players, like myself, haven’t been paid since the end of August.
I’m really counting on that first paycheck coming on April 15. https://t.co/aAnSVmvwwA
— Mitch Horacek (@mhoracek14) March 12, 2020
Baseball is an enormous industry that enjoyed record profits last year. The owners are ludicrously wealthy. And yet minor league players, most of whom did not sign million-dollar bonuses upon getting drafted or being signed internationally, the players who are quite literally the future of the sport, don’t know how they’ll be able to make ends meet.
Who knows what’s going to happen with the MILB/pay so I decided to start driving with Door Dash tonight. $62 in 3 hours… not too bad. 🤷♂️
— Peter Bayer (@PeterBayer47) March 13, 2020
The owners, and indeed the league itself, could easily create some sort of fund to at least give the players something resembling a wage until the crisis ends. The Rangers told Evan Grant that they’ve spoken with the commissioner’s office about paying minor leaguers during the shutdown, which is good to hear, but nothing has been decided just yet.
Players are traveling home, but they have these guys’ addresses and routing numbers. It’s doable. There’s no excuse to send them home and expect them to keep themselves ready to go at a moment’s notice while also providing no income at a time when finding a job could be extremely difficult.
How Minor Leaguers are treated during this mayhem.
I hate getting inside info because it sucks even more than you’d think. pic.twitter.com/yqY9L4yhoF
— Eric Sim (@esim69) March 14, 2020
Teams also have an obligation to help out the low-income workers at their stadiums. No games or events means no work for these people, which means no income. While many NBA owners and players are stepping up to provide for arena staff members, the Detroit Tigers are the only baseball team that has publicly said that they’re going to help their part-time workers. Zach Buchanan wrote an excellent story for The Athletic about these people, who suddenly don’t know when their next paycheck could be coming.
"I don't have that information on hand"
– Brodie Van Wagenen on if the Mets plan to provide for part-time stadium employees pic.twitter.com/23ZrUE8L23
— SNY (@SNYtv) March 14, 2020
It’s ridiculous that NBA players like Zion Williamson have to step up when the owners of the teams they play for won’t, and it’s shameful that 29 of the 30 MLB teams have been all but silent on the issue. Stadium workers are just as important to the experience of going to a game as the players are. The least teams could do is make sure that they don’t go broke while they wait for crisis to end.